Council OKs longer ban on building near schools But Baltimore Co. panel has time to review student crowding

June 18, 1996|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County Council voted unanimously last night to extend for 120 days a building moratorium in areas where elementary schools are overcrowded.

But the extension gives the council time to review a report due in August from a task force appointed in March to study the problem. The council will have time to take the panel's recommendations and introduce legislation to implement any changes.

Several community leaders had urged the council not to wait for the task force report and to approve a bill sponsored by Councilman T. Bryan McIntire, a north county-Owings Mills Republican, extending the moratorium for another year.

But business leaders had opposed the moratorium, arguing that demographic changes, rather than new housing, are the real reason for school crowding.

The moratorium extends the ban on development around elementary schools more than 20 percent over capacity.

McIntire urged the council to adopt his bill that called for a year's extension of the moratorium, saying he didn't want to rush the committee.

But six members of the council voted to amend McIntire's bill to implement a shorter extension, saying they didn't want to drag the issue out any longer. Then the council unanimously approved the measure.

"It's time to come up with a final decision," said Towson Councilman Douglas B. Riley, a Republican.

Some community leaders and councilmen have said the county should adopt a permanent adequate-facilities law that prohibits new development around all crowded county schools, not just elementary schools, as the law requires.

Anne Arundel, Harford, Howard and Carroll counties have similar laws barring new construction around schools that have enrollments more than 20 percent above capacity.

In other action, the council:

Passed a resolution directing the Baltimore County auditor to conduct an audit of the effectiveness of the school system's facilities department in light of the problems at Deer Park Elementary School.

Voted to ask the Planning Board to study possible changes in zoning regulations for membership warehouse clubs and "big box" stores. Perry Hall Democrat Vincent J. Gardina, who introduced a resolution asking for the study, said he was concerned that under zoning laws, large stores may use up too much of the county's business and light manufacturing land.

Met with the Baltimore City Council to discuss possible ways to cooperate. The two groups promised to work together on economic development and cultural issues.

Pub Date: 6/18/96

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